Quinn, T. J., Dempsey, S. L., Hourihan, S. E., LaRoche, D. P., & MacKenzie, A. M. (2011). The effect of increasing step frequency on running economy in female runners. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43(5). Supplement abstract 857.

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This study determined if a short training program (15 minutes for 10 days) to increase step frequency to 180 steps per minute would elicit improvements in running economy in females. Ss had a 5K personal record time between 17 and 22 minutes within the past year. Ss were screened for step frequency and those exceeding 175 steps/min were excluded from the study. All Ss reported to the laboratory for 12 consecutive days and completed two running economy tests (Days l and 12). On Day 1, a VO2max test was completed. A 10-day training program to increase step frequency was conducted across Days 2-11. Tests were conducted at two running velocities: 201 and 228 m/min and two different step frequencies: preferred step frequency and 180 steps per minute. Each runner ran for five minutes at each speed and running economy was calculated as the mean steady-state VO2 between minutes four and five. A five-minute recovery was given between tests. The training program consisted of running at 180 steps per min for 15 minutes at a self-selected velocity between 201 and 228 m/min. A metronome was used to help Ss maintain the altered step frequency which was also monitored directly.

Oxygen consumption was lower at each testing velocity and step frequency condition following the 10-day training program. While not statistically significant, the average drop in VO2 across both speeds and step frequency conditions was 3.0%. At the preferred step frequency condition, the lower oxygen consumptions were achieved at significantly greater step frequencies and significantly lower heart rates. On average across the two speeds, heart rate was 4.0% lower and step frequency was 4.0% higher.

Implication. A 10-day training program to increase step frequency can lower oxygen consumption and improve running economy in well- trained female runners.

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